Be part of the action! / Start your own GZG

If you are serious about taking on this challenge feel free to contact us and we will send you a step by step guide that will help you skip all the trial and error we had to go through 🙂

HOW TO START YOUR OWN GROENTEN ZONDER GRENZEN?

Find like-minded people

We recommend starting an initiative with a core group of people that are willing to dedicate time and energy weekly to the initiative. Starting the initiative will take more time than eventually running it. We recommend a core group of four dedicated people. If people do not immediately come to mind, take a look at our tips on finding volunteers!

Find a venue

Before you can start saving food and start cooking for your guests you will need a venue. The perfect venue for hosting such initiatives are community centers. Make sure that it is one that has a kitchen that fits your needs and has some space for storage of the food collected (fridge, freezer, etc.). These venues are often available for free. If these venues are not available try to be creative, however, we do not recommend cooking from your own kitchen as this is not a long-term option.

Find volunteers

To find volunteers we recommend using Facebook groups, webpages on volunteer work and the network of the community centers. Also as mentioned before vegan platforms or platforms for vegan cooking could also good places to find volunteers. Next to finding volunteers it is important that they enjoy what they do. Make sure that they feel welcome and appreciated. Try to organize special events for them, like a cooking workshop by a vegan restaurant. On top of that find a group that is motivated so there are always people that want to volunteer.

Find food waste streams

When you have your location and your chefs, it is time to find some food that is about to be wasted. This might sound like a challenge, but unfortunately it easier to find than you might think. Contact your local supermarkets, food markets, bakeries and local urban food producers. All these organizations often have food that they need to throw away but is still edible. It is important to make clear arrangements with your suppliers and establish good working relationships with them.  

STRUCTURE YOUR VOLUNTEER FAMILY

The coordination of the initiative takes around 4 hours a week. This includes the management of the relationships with all the parties involved, volunteer management and social media. 

The volunteers can sign up for one or multiple volunteer shifts. 

Collecting food

  • Market Runners 🍱🛒 : The first shift is the food pick up. This takes around two hours with three people and consists of picking up the food from the Tuesday Market (Binnenrotte in the center of Rotterdam), transporting it to the community center and storing it. 
  • Urban harvesters: in collaboration with GroenGoed, we get to pick-up the surplus of an Urban Garden located in the north of Rotterdam (Wilgenplantsoen).
  • Bread winners: in charge of collecting bread with our partner bakery Das Brot.

Then the day after that it is D-Day (Dinner Day). 

  • Food magicians 🎩: on the cooking day, the cooking crew (4-5 volunteers) prepare the food (average cooking time planned 3 to 3:30h)
  • Table managers 🪑 (1-2 volunteers) prepare the venue about 30min before the arrival of guests
  • Clean sweepers 🧹 (2-3 volunteers) clean up afterwards. 

You can find more details about our volunteer activities on this page.

We use a WhatsApp group with all our volunteers in which we post the sign-up sheet every Sunday for the upcoming week. People can sign up for a shift by copying that message and putting their name under the shift they want (see Appendix for template message).

MAKE CONNECTIONS

Reach your audience

Our dinners are open to everyone who wants a free delicious vegan meal. In the beginning we advertised with posters in the city, in community centers, and through social workers. Once people know your initiative they will start to share it themselves in their own networks! We use social media to build our community and maintain relationships, with people and other organizations.

Transporting the food

Getting the food from your suppliers to your venue is always good fun, laughs and stares from strangers guaranteed! You can use your bike with a crate or wheelbarrows (depending on how far you will have to walk). You can also decide to invest in a cargo bike, we do recommend buying it secondhand as this is the most sustainable option or even find another initiative that uses cargo bikes from which you can borrow them. Generally, three people go to the market of which at least one is an experienced volunteer and therefore knows the suppliers to some extent.

ON THE D-DAY OF THE SOCIAL DINNER

Cooking the food

Now the fun part can start, the cooking! Being a chef in the kitchen is not a necessity, but having someone present that knows the basics has proven to be useful. Every time you will collect different types of food, because availability changes with the seasons. Thus creativity in the kitchen is important, but Google is also your best friend here. For some inspiration on what to make you can check out some of the recipes we make here. At the moment we cook for 20 to 30 people. Generally, the cooking is done by four-five volunteers. Another them of 3 volunteers is in charge of the clean up afterwards. Groenten Zonder Grenzen only uses plant-based ingredients and all the meals that are made are vegan.

Social Dinner – a moment to connect

It is time to serve your meal. This is also the time that people connect. In the beginning people mix well, as no one knows each other. We noticed that after a while people start to know each other too well, this decreased the amount of new connections that were made during the meals. Tips or ideas to inspire connection are:

  • Using personalized name tags, these are name tags you can aim to put extra tidbits of information about the attendee on their name tag. When filling out registration forms merely add an extra box that allows attendees to fill in the information and this allows like-minded guests to find each other at the event as well as start interesting talking points to break the ice. For example: “Ask me about my craziest adventure” or “Ask me about my best animal impression”.
  • Change table seating at dessert.

Concluding note

Lastly, it is important to know that this is a guideline based on the experience of the volunteers and founders of the Groenten Zonder Grenzen project. This is what we did and how we started the project, but does not mean that you should exactly follow the steps and road that we took. If you have other ideas, different values or already different connections it is up to you to use those and develop your own type of Veggies Without Borders! Be creative!